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A powerful force has waded into what is becoming an ugly Hollywood brawl.
The advocacy tools website Change.org announced on Monday that 20 members of Congress have signed on to a petition asking the MPAA to lower the R rating it gave to director Lee Hirsch‘s documentary Bully.
“We are writing to express our sincere disappointment in the MPAA’s decision to issue an ‘R’ rating for the soon-to-be-released documentary Bully,” the bipartisan group, led by Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA) wrote in a letter accompanying the press announcement. “This important project shows the real life anguish of many teenagers in this country who are tormented, harassed, and bullied by their peers. This truth should be shared with as wide an audience as is appropriate and possible. We believe an R-rating excludes the very audience for whom this film is desperately important.”
The petition, started by high school student Katy Butler, has garnered over 275,000 signatures, helped by public support from Ellen Degeneres and New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees. Its uplifting grassroots message has worked in tandem with a harder approach from the film’s executive producer, Harvey Weinstein, who has threatened to pull out from the ratings board over the matter.
The film has been given a PG rating in Canada, but the MPAA has held firm, while the National Association of Theater Owners have threatened to treat Weinstein’s future releases as it would NC-17 films if he leaves the ratings board.
Monday’s announcement comes days ahead of what will be a short ceasefire in the battle, when Weinstein and the MPAA co-host a showing of the film for Washington DC-area principals and educators. After the screening, Weinstein and MPAA Chairman Chris Dodd will participte alongside educators and childhood health advocates on a panel about the film’s message.
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